New Adventures in Prayer: Invitation to Authority

In the conversation for Sunday, July 16, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice continues his series, New Adventures in Prayer, and shares with us that prayer is an invitation to understanding that God, our Father, has authority over all things, just as the heavens stretch over the earth. Yet, the primary purpose of this authority is to bring about a breakthrough in our lives, reversing the curse, and setting us free to love as God loves.

Sacred Reading, 00:00–15:46
Conversation, 15:46–49:55

New Adventures in Prayer: Invitation to Authority

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,”
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NASB)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

I love the Lord because he hears
    and answers my prayers.
Because he bends down and listens,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death had its hands around my throat;
    the terrors of the grave overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
    So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
    I was facing death, and then he saved me.
Now I can rest again,
    for the Lord has been so good to me.
Psalm 116:1-7 (NLT)

New Adventures in Prayer: Invitation to Intimacy

In the conversation for Sunday, July 9, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice continues his series, New Adventures in Prayer, and shares with us that prayer is an invitation to intimacy with God. 

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Sacred Reading, 00:00–18:40
Conversation, 18:40–45:10

New Adventures in Prayer: Invitation to Intimacy 

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,”
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
1 John 3:1-2 (NASB)

Ken Karnes: All We Need Is Love

In the conversation for Sunday, July 2, 2017, Ken Karnes shares with us his story of the restorative power of God’s love and if we choose to open our hearts to God’s love, we will be changed and able to love fully as we are loved by God.

Sacred Reading, 00:00–14:29
Conversation, 14:29–47:45

All We Need Is Love

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.
1 John 4:13-21, The Message

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. … This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
1 John 4:7, 9-12, The Message

Grant Teagarden: The God Who Speaks

In the conversation for Sunday, June 25, 2017, Grant Teagarden shares with us his story about discovering how God speaks to him and offers suggestions on how to listen so that we would hear what God is saying to us.

Sacred Reading, 00:00–09:52
Conversation, 09:52–52:55

The God Who Speaks

  1. Be still.
  2. Visualize Jesus.
  3. Tune into the thoughts entering your mind.
  4. Write it down.

“God is speaking to me, continually, so that I can know him, and particularly his love for me.”

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)

Andrew & Wendy Russell: Our Story

In the conversation for Sunday, June 18, 2017, VLC members, Andrew and Wendy Russell, share with us their story of God’s love and grace through direction, provision, healing, restoration, and adoption. Their hope is that in sharing their story it will encourage others to share the goodness of God through their own stories.

Sacred Reading, 00:00–16:42
Conversation, 16:42–56:26

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

For we are His workmanship, God’s own master work, even a work of art, created in Christ Jesus, being reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and ready to be used for good works, which God prepared for us beforehand to do. Taking paths which He set, so that we would walk in them, living the good life, which He prearranged and made ready for us. 
Ephesians 2:10, Amplified Bible

New Adventures in Prayer: Invitation to Relationship

In the conversation for Sunday, June 11, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice continues the series titled, New Adventures in Prayer. In this conversation, Pastor Stuart invites us to approach prayer as a way to build our relationship with God. The text for this message is Matthew 6:9. 

Sacred Reading, 00:00–14:40
Conversation, 14:40–41:35

New Adventures in Prayer: Invitation to Relationship

“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,‘”
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

Since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NASB)

New Adventures in Prayer

In the conversation for Sunday, June 4, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice begins a series titled, New Adventures in Prayer. In this conversation, Pastor Stuart invites us to imagine what a lifestyle of prayer would look like. He uses Jesus’ instruction on prayer from Matthew 6:5-9

Sacred Reading, 00:00–10:21
Conversation, 10:21–48:17

New Adventures in Prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This, then, is how you should pray:”
Matthew 6:5-9 (NIV)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV)

Facing Your Next Battle with a New Plan

In the conversation for Sunday, May 28, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice invites us to consider engaging our current and future struggles with a posture of trust God through resting in God’s presence. 

Facing Your Next Battle with a New Plan

“Cease striving and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family—calling him,"Father, dear Father." For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we will share his treasures--for everything God gives to his Son, Christ,  is now ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.
Romans 8:14-18 (TLB)

The Transforming Power of Grace

In the conversation for Sunday, May 21, 2017, Pastor Kim Nowlin explores with us the transformative power of God’s grace. 

The Transforming Power of Grace

“And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.”
Acts 4:32-34 (NIV)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.
Acts 4:32-34 (NIV)

The Power of Spiritual Conversation

In the conversation for Sunday, May 14, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice explains the necessity for conversations that lead us into a closer relationship with one another and with the Lord. 

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The Power of Spiritual Conversations

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
John 21:15-22 (NIV)
  1. Checking the Heart
  2. Restoring the Breaches
  3. Giving Purpose

Spiritual Conversation Starters Handout

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them. A person who doesn’t love me doesn’t do what I say. I don’t make up what you hear me say. What I say comes from the Father who sent me."
“I have told you this while I’m still with you. However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you."
“I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly."
John 14:23-27 (GW)

Learning to Follow When You Lose Your Way

In the conversation for Sunday, May 7, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares with us that if you find that you are lost, stop and wait, God will find you.

Learning to Follow When You Lose Your Way

     Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
     Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
     He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
     “No,” they answered.
     He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
     Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
     Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
John 21:1-14 (NIV)
  • The Discipline of Waiting
  • The Tendency to Go Backwards
  • Jesus Reestablishes Direction Through Relationship

Sacred Reading

Due to a technical issue, this Sunday’s Sacred Reading did not get recorded.

The practice of Sacred Reading involves reading the passage of scripture four times, each time with a different focus, pausing in between. Here are the guidelines.

  • Read: Read the passage and receive it as God’s message to you.
  • Reflect: Read the passage again and look for the word or phrase that the Holy Spirit highlights to your heart.
  • Respond: Take the highlighted words and make them a prayer.
  • Rest: Rest your heart in God’s promises.

The text for the morning was Psalm 40:1-5, NIV

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.
Psalms 40:1-5 (NIV)

Learning to Follow When Life Goes Sideways

In the conversation for Sunday, April 30, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice encourages us to press into trusting God in and through difficult situations. Even if the doubts are too strong and it feels as if God is not there, we can follow the example of the disciples by gathering together, sharing one another’s burdens, and experiencing God’s grace through fellowship.

Learning to Follow When Life Goes Sideways, John 20:24-31, NASB

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
John 20:24-25 (NASB) 

We Can All Be Thomas

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
John 20:26-27 (NASB) 

Following in Doubt

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:28-31 (NASB) 

Believing Is Seeing

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.
Psalms 25:1-6 (NASB)

When Life Goes Upside Down

In the conversation for Sunday, April 23, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares with us that life will go upside down at some time, and when it does Jesus will be there with peace only he can provide.

When Life Goes Upside Down

Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.
So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “ Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
John 20:18-22, NASB
  • Where is Jesus?
  • What is he saying?
  • How do I make sense of it?

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Colossians 3:12-15, NLT

You Can't Really Live Without Dying: You Can't Get There From Here, Part 5

In the conversation for Sunday, April 9, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares about the paradox of finding what it is to truly live only if we choose to die to the self.

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You Can't Really Live Without Dying

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mark 8:34-37 (NASB)

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
Romans 12:10-18 (NLT)

You Can't Experience Love Without Forgiving: You Can't Get There From Here, Part 4

In the conversation for Sunday, April 2, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares with us that forgiveness flows to those who forgive.

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You Can't Experience Love Without Forgiving

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
Matthew 6:12-15, NASB

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

     Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Suffering for Being a Christian
     Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:8-13, NIV

You Can't Be Great Without Being Least: You Can't Get There From Here, Part 3

In the conversation for Sunday, March 26, 2017, Pastors Stuart Nice and Kim Nowlin share with us that in order to have the greatest kingdom impact we must find the openness to ask revealing questions of ourselves, the humility to walk Jesus' way, and the commitment be a student of how to relation to those around us. 

You Can't Be Great Without Being Least

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9:33-37, NASB

 

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

Don't ever let anyone call you Teacher. Don't let people put you on a pedestal like that. You have only one teacher and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God. And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ. The greatest among you must be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will really count. 
Matthew 23:8-12, NLT & The Message combo

You Can't Get Better by Making Less of Others: You Can't Get There from Here, Part 2

In the conversation for Sunday, March 19, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares with us the pitfalls of judging others and what a new path would look like if we follow Jesus' lead.

You Can't Get Better by Making Less of Others

     “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."
     “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
Matthew 7:1-6, NASB
  1. What do we know about judging others?
  2. Where is Jesus taking us as his disciples?
  3. The practice and prescription of the new path

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

     If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
     Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:8-13, NIV

The Kingdom Way: You Can't Get There from Here, Part l

In the conversation for Sunday, March 12, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares with us that our goal of living according to God's kingdom cannot be accomplished through natural means. It's by being people of blessing that others are blessed. We can be Jesus to others by being with Jesus ourselves. These are not things we do, rather what we already are in Christ.

The Kingdom Way

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? ... You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:25-26, 30-34, NASB

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Blessed are those who mourn.
They will be comforted.
Blessed are those who are gentle.
They will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for God’s approval.
They will be satisfied.
Blessed are those who show mercy.
They will be treated mercifully.
Blessed are those whose thoughts are pure.
They will see God.
Blessed are those who make peace.
They will be called God’s children.
Matthew 5:3-9, GW

Emptying Yourself of Religion

In the conversation for Sunday, March 5, 2017, Pastor Stuart Nice shares with us a reflection on the simple gospel with three simple "tests" to evaluate whether or not we are living according to this simple gospel.

Emptying Yourself of Religion

“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one was a Pharisee, the other was a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, ‘O God, I do thank you that I am not like the rest of mankind, greedy, dishonest, impure, or even like that tax-collector over there. I fast twice every week; I give away a tenth-part of all my income.’ But the tax-collector stood in a distant corner, scarcely daring to look up to Heaven, and with a gesture of despair, said, ‘God, have mercy on a sinner like me.’ I assure you that he was the man who went home justified in God’s sight, rather than the other one. For everyone who sets himself up as somebody will become a nobody, and the man who makes himself nobody will become somebody.”
Luke 18:10-14, J.B. Phillips New Testament

The Simple Gospel: It's all about grace.

Three Tests

  1. Am I judging other people?
  2. Am I comparing myself?
  3. Have I lost my peace?

Sacred Reading

A note about the recording of the Sacred Reading:
The reader will pause between each of the four readings. The pauses have been left in the recording so that the listener can experience the rhythm of the gathering and even participate in the reading.

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Romans 3:20-24, New Living Translation